#EngTalk: the Oxford Comma

Hello, hello, fellas! Nice to finally meet you again in this chilly evening! Before we start the session, I’ve got a question for you… :D

Do you know or have you ever heard the term “Oxford comma“? Tell me what you know about it! :D

If you like Vampire Weekend (the band), then you have probably heard of their song “Oxford Comma”. Anybody? :?

What is Oxford comma?

Only few of you answered my question… :( But thank God they are all correct! :D Here are some explanations on what “Oxford comma” is.

  • @nsrheisa: adding a comma before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list
  • @justajenk: a comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually and, or, or nor) in a series of three or more terms.
  • @anitrii: an optional comma put before conjunction and/or
  • @iranindya: misalnya: me, you, and them
  • @aarumkusuma: serial comma, right? just like: doctor, teacher, and architect XD

Please, please, click this link, open your browser, read “Oxford comma” short explanation from @GrammarGirl: The Oxford Comma, in Pictures.

Oxford comma: also known as “serial comma” or “Harvard comma“. It’s been a debate since some style guides recommend it, some don’t.

Why is the Oxford comma important?

What’s so important about the Oxford comma? Perhaps you can tell me by seeing these examples…

  1. So these are my parents, George Clooney and Oprah. = without Oxford comma
  2. So these are my parents, George Clooney, and Oprah. = with Oxford comma

Can you see the difference between the two sentences? Tell me if you spot it! :)

  • Admin: Yes, this is the difference! :D “@eunhaewhut: 1) wow, your parents are actually george clooney and oprah”
  • Admin: Yes, she’s not my parent too.. :p “@adiyasatambyak: Oprah is not my parents, i guess.. hehe..”
  • @galangalif: 1st sentence tells us that george clooney and oprah are your parents. The 2nd tells us that you were intoducing some people.
  • @nanadkunad: in the 1st sentence, “george&oprah” are “my parents”. while in the 2nd sentence, “my parents”, “george” & “oprah” are 3 different persons

So if you write “These are my parents, George Clooney and Oprah.” it means “George Clooney and Oprah” are your parents.

If you write “These are my parents, George Clooney, and Oprah.” = you are introducing your parents, George, and Oprah (3 items).

How about these sentences?

  1. They are my brothers, Alan and Rick.
  2. They are my brothers, Alan, and Rick.

See the difference?

The Oxford comma’s infographic

Let’s take a look at the infographic on the Oxford comma from@OnlineSchools here…


It is stated that in the UK, Canada, and Australia, people tend not to use the Oxford comma. While in US, people tend to use it.

Should we or should we not use the Oxford comma?

So the last question from this session would be.. Should we use Oxford comma or not? What do you think? :)

  • @eridaputrii: we should use it since its easier to tell the difference by using comma
  • @nitapradita: should , cause comma one of intonations when someone read sentences or words :)
  • @cindyhfn: I think we should. It’s confusing if we don’t use it
  • @mafiraslee: i think we should bc we use it too in bahasa and it easier to tell the difference.
  • @SatrioTeguh: To prevent ambiguity and misreading, Oxford comma is recommended to use.

Well, should we or should we not use the Oxford comma? The answer relies on what you want to say, the meaning that you convey.

If Alan and Rick are both your brothers + you want to introduce them, then you might write: “They are my brothers, Alan and Rick.”

But if you intend to introduce your brothers (who ARE NOT Allan and Rick) + 2 other people: “They are my brothers, Alan, and Rick.”

More readings on the Oxford comma

Well, you might have your own conclusion on the Oxford comma and I will leave you to that. Meanwhile, here are some more readings…


Before we end the session.. Let me tell you a secret to conquering the world… Unlike any other secret, you must share this to other people…

The ultimate secret to conquering the world: READ! You will not do anything unless you know something.

Compiled and written by @NenoNeno at @EnglishTips4U on March 4, 2013

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